Would it be possible to see some evidence to back up the assertions in this article? I ask because there is some compelling evidence that first impressions, and in particular aesthetic judgement, have a measurable impact on perceived usability. Simply put, people tend to believe that aesthetically pleasing things work better, and when people believe things work better, their actual experience is measurably better.
Here are some relevant links that discuss the above in greater detail:
By no means is aesthetic evaluation the be all and end all of usability testing, but it might not be particularly beneficial to dissuade people from it entirely. For what it’s worth the activities you suggest doing; observe what users do, take note of where they trip up, measure their understanding of a design all seem solid and should be included as part any well-rounded usability study.
What a great comment! Thank you, Matt :)
I'm aware of the aesthetic usability effect and I completely agree that your perception of something changes how you actually experience it.
In my opinion perceptions are even more important than what really is (because reality is merely an illusion [formed by perceptions] … but that's another story).
That said, I have to reconsider the suggestions in this article. I'm still convinced that user testing is more about observing behaviour than it is about asking for opinions, but I perceive the line between the two of them to become more and more blurry after thinking about your comment.
I will think about that some more, and more importantly, make some experiments and present you the evidence. I'm doing a lot of user testing right now and so it's the perfect timing for this :)
Once again, thank you very much for your comment. And just so you know: I've used UsabilityHub many times before (to test logo ideas for example), and I love it for what it is—or for what I perceive it to be :D
Yeah, don't think I'm going to take usability advice from a site that waits until you are half way through the article then scrolls you back to the top of the page to display a full screen email form. I bounced immediately.
Thanks for your comment, Dan!
That's why I love getting feedback from real people. While our data suggests the welcome mat is a good idea (increased conversion rate), you remind us that it actually sucks.
The good thing is, we're already redesigning our blog to get rid of this ugly distraction and provide a more meaningful experience for our readers.
Thanks for the motivation to keep working on this now :)